U.S. WNT ARRIVES EARLY IN PORTUGAL FOR 11 DAYS OF TRAINING BEFORE ALGARVE CUP: The U.S. Women’s National Team has arrived on the southern coast of Portugal to prepare for its second international tournament of 2011. This is the USA’s 16th trip to the Algarve Cup, which has developed into one of the premier tournaments in the world. The 2011 edition of the event features 12 teams and four of FIFA’s top-10 ranked countries. It’s also an ideal environment for U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage to continue her roster evaluation and team preparation for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA will play four matches, the first three in a group format, with a placement game coming on March 9. The U.S. team arrived on the early morning of Feb. 19 and will have 11 days of training before opening the competition against Japan on March 2 at Municipal Stadium in Vila Real de San Antonio, which is just a Hope Solo goal kick from the Spanish border. The tournament was held a week earlier last year and the USA arrived five days before its first match. All of the USA’s Group A games kick off at 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) and fans can follow the action as it happens on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.
FIRST MEETING WITH JAPAN SINCE 2008 OLYMPICS: The USA faced Japan twice at the 2008 Olympics in China, first in group play and again the semifinal, but the two countries have not met since. The USA and Japan will open play on March 2 in what should be an entertaining game with both countries looking to get a leg up on Group A. A loss during the Algarve Cup is difficult to rebound from, as a team needs to win its group to qualify for the championship game. The Algarve Cup is the fourth event of the year for the USA, which had a training camp in Los Angeles in mid-January, the Four Nations Tournament in China in late January and a training camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in early February. Seven of the eight teams in Groups A and B are the same as last year with Japan replacing Germany. The Germans are finishing up their club season early to prepare for the Women’s World Cup and did not want to pull their players out of crucial end-of-the-season club matches to attend the tournament.
18th Annual Algarve Cup
The Algarve, Portugal
USA, Japan, Norway, Finland
Sweden, China, Iceland, Denmark
Portugal, Chile, Wales, Romania
|U.S. WNT 2011 Algarve Cup Schedule|
|March 2||Japan||3 p.m. / 10 a.m.||Estádio Municipal; VR de SA|
|March 4||Norway||3 p.m. / 10 a.m.||Estádio Municipal; VR de SA|
|March 7||Finland||3 p.m. / 10 a.m.||Estádio Municipal; Quarteira|
|March 9||Placement Match||TBD||TBD|
SIXTEEN YEARS IN PORTUGAL: The U.S. Women have gone 10-1-4 in openers of this annual tournament the past 15 times they have attended. The only opening game loss came in 2001 when the USA brought a very young team to the Algarve during WUSA pre-season camps. Last year, the USA won all four games of the tournament for only the fourth time in the 15 previous appearances. The USA won all four games, and of course the tournament title, in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. The USA also won the tournament in 2000 (its first title), 2003 and 2004. The USA has twice lost in penalty kicks in the championship game, in 2006 to Germany and in 2009 to Sweden.
FINAL TOURNAMENT BEFORE GERMANY: The 2011 Algarve Cup will be the USA’s final tournament competition before starting play in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany on June 28 against Korea DPR in Dresden. The USA will play a friendly against England on April 2 in London and several domestic matches in the spring to send the team off to the World Cup, giving the squad 11 full international matches this year before heading to Germany.
U.S. ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The USA comes to the 2011 Algarve Cup with a 24-player roster, but Pia Sundhage will name 20 to suit up for the tournament games. Sundhage has brought four goalkeepers, six defenders, nine midfielders and four forwards to the tournament. Goalkeeper Hope Solo, who is in the final stages of her comeback from major shoulder last September, will not play in this tournament and is targeting the USA’s trip to England for a return to game action. Of the USA’s 24 players, just four are over thirty in team captain Christie Rampone (35 years old), Shannon Boxx (33), Abby Wambach (31) and Lori Lindsey (30). Solo and Nicole Barnhart are 29. The youngest player on the squad is 21-year-old forward Alex Morgan. Fourteen of the players on the roster were at the tournament last year. Eight players – Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Saurerbrunn, Ashlyn Harris, Whitney Engen and Alyssa Naeher – are at their first Algarve Cup. All 24 players on the roster are professionals with 23 playing in Women’s Professional Soccer (and Morgan entering her rookie year). Krieger is the lone American to play her club ball outside of the USA, plying her trade for FFC Frankfurt in Germany. The make-up of the roster gives several young players the chance to impress U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage in some highly competitive games as USA continues on its road to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.
ADD KRIEGER: Ali Krieger missed the first two days of camp as she was playing for Frankfurt on Sunday, Feb. 20, in a 6-0 victory against SG Essen-Schönebeck. She started at right back and played the first 74 minutes, and then joined the U.S. that evening in Portugal. Frankfurt is currently in a three-team battle for the Women’s Bundesliga title. Turbine Potsdam of Berlin (52 points from 20 matches) is in first, followed by Frankfurt (50 from 20 matches) and FCR Duisburg (47 from 20 matches). Each team has two matches remaining, one of which Krieger will miss before returning to Germany for the March 13 finale against Bayern Munich.
ALGARVE CUP QUICK HITS
- The USA is 42-9-8 all-time in the Algarve Cup.
- The USA has scored 124 goals while allowing 48 at the Algarve Cup.
- The most goals the USA has scored in an Algarve Cup game is seven, achieved against Portugal in 2000.
- The most goals the USA has scored in an Algarve Cup game not against Portugal is five, achieved against France in a 5-1 win in 2004 and against Denmark in a 5-0 win in 2006.
- The USA has not lost a match in regulation time in the Algarve Cup since 2004, a 3-1 setback to Sweden. The USA still made the championship game though and won its second Algarve Cup title 2-0 against China.
- Eight players on the USA’s roster have scored at the Algarve Cup: Abby Wambach (15 goals), Carli Lloyd (6), Lindsay Tarpley (5), Lauren Cheney (4), Heather O’Reilly (4), Shannon Boxx (1), Tobin Heath (1) and Amy Rodriguez (1).
- Wambach’s 15 goals are tops all-time at the Algarve Cup for a U.S. player and tied with Swedish legend Hanna Ljungberg as the top scorer in the 18-year history of the tournament.
- Cheney had a breakout tournament last year at the Algarve cup, scoring in three of the four matches and four goals total, including the eventual winning goal against Germany in the championship game.
- The USA had been shut out in just four of its 59 all-time Algarve Cup games (with two coming in 2001), but were shutout twice in 2006, with both games ending 0-0 in regulation against China and Germany. The tie against China in the 2006 Algarve opener broke a streak of 17 straight games in which the USA had scored at this tournament.
- Currently, the USA has scored in 16 straight Algarve Cup games and a goal against Japan will tie its record.
- Five teams have played in all 18 Algarve Cups so far: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and host Portugal.
- Christie Rampone is the most-capped player on the U.S. roster with 229, 80 more than the next closest player, Wambach. Rampone will not arrive in Portugal on Feb. 22 as she gets in some fitness training back in New Jersey after recovering from sickness.
ALL-TIME U.S. FINISHES AT THE ALGARVE CUP: The USA has had some tremendous success at the Algarve Cup (eight straight appearances in the championship game and seven titles overall), but the USA didn’t win its first until its sixth try in 2000 when a Brandi Chastain penalty kick defeated Norway in the title game, 1-0. It took the USA three years to win it again.
HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE: With the success of the U.S. team in this tournament, the Americans have also taken home several individual awards over the years, including five MVPs and five Top Scorer awards. In 1999, Tiffeny Milbrett was the Best Player and the Top Scorer with four goals. In 2002, Shannon MacMillan was the Top Scorer with seven goals, the most in one Algarve Cup tournament by a U.S. player. In 2004, Abby Wambach was the Top Scorer with five goals and Shannon Boxx was voted Best Player. In 2005, Christie Welsh was Top Scorer with five goals. In 2006, Hope Solo was voted Best Goalkeeper and Boxx took home her second Algarve Cup MVP award. In 2007, Carli Lloyd did the double, taking the Top Scorer (four goals) and Best Player awards. In 2009, Solo was the first goalkeeper to win the tournament’s MVP award.
TOURNAMENT FORMAT: Since the expansion from eight to 12 teams nine years ago, the Algarve Cup format has been as follows. The teams in Group A and B will compete for the title as the group winners will play in the championship game on Wednesday, March 9. The two second-place group finishers in Groups A and B will play for third place while the third-place finishers will play for fifth. The Group C teams will be competing for a chance to play for spots 7-11 as the winner of Group C will play the best fourth place team from Groups A or B, the second place team in Group C will play the worst fourth place team from Groups A or B. The teams that finish third and four in Group C will play each other for 11th place.
Stat of Note
Abby Wambach’s next cap will be her 150th, making her the 14th U.S. WNT player to achieve that milestone.